Time to Fess Up
I’m a mom yeller. I’m hesitant to admit it, but it’s most definitely true. When I imagined myself as a mother, it never included yelling. But over time, it just became my go to coping strategy when nothing else worked. Maybe it was the quick addition of kid after kid with little time to adjust. Maybe it was the idea of repeating myself for the seventeenth time. Maybe it was the students who drained all my patience, which left little for my own kids. Maybe it was the feeling of control and power when I really turned up the volume. But ultimately, yelling made me feel yucky as a mom, and I almost always felt regret immediately following my tirades. I would end up apologizing to my kids and promising to do better, but I have never been able to truly break the cycle.
Until now. You see, I can no longer physically yell. Following a thyroid removal surgery, my right vocal cord was damaged and my voice suffered. I have been talking in a whisper for several weeks now, not really knowing if or when my voice will come back. This has been an interesting shift as you can imagine. My kids initially thought it was funny, but now they are realizing that mom has to communicate in a new way, and they do too.
Sometimes a Mom Needs to Yell
Sometimes a mom needs to yell. There are instances that demand a loud, quick response, and between three kids, I feel like I have those instances a lot. Failure to be able to get my kids’ attention quickly has been both frustrating and frightening. I’ve tried several techniques, the most successful one has been one loud clap. They know that means that mom has something to say and they huddle in real close to listen. They have also been my voice, repeating directions for each other and checking in with me when my eyes have that look of “pay attention, I have something to say!” It has forced us to work together and check-in more often.
The inability to fly off the handle has also provided me with the constant chance to stop and reflect. I have to ask myself, “Is this really important, do I need to even say this right now?” It has allowed me to really think about what words to use and when to use them. By the end of the day, my whisper voice is all used up and tired from straining, so I’ve had to edit myself to preserve what little voice I do have.
A Forced Lesson in Mindfulness
The thing is, along with being a yeller, I’m also a nagger. I’m constantly making requests of my kids, constantly trying to control what’s happening around them. But now, I just have to let most things go, I have to channel my energy and attention to things that matter. And it has been glorious. I have learned that I don’t want to go back to the mom I used to be.
I’ve also enjoyed the closeness that has resulted. Literally I have to have my kids right next to me to communicate with them. And when I am looking at their faces and listening to them breathe, that alone has calmed me down and allowed me to be mindful about what I need to say. What a gift this has been, to be able to talk to my kids without yelling and to have them near me, looking at me when I’m talking to them. I wish I had done this eleven years ago.
Choosing to be That Mom
The real test will come when my real voice returns (and I hope it does). I am grateful that this experience has taught me how to pause and be present with my words and with my actions. I know my kids and husband have appreciated the shift and would prefer a non-yelling mama. Communicating in a calmer way has given me a lot to think about, and I’m committed to sticking with it. The only problem is, how will I be that crazy sports mom if I can’t
yell cheer for them from across the field? I might need to dig up my old megaphone for that, which would surely result in legendary status on the #momfail list. But I’ll take that over crazy yeller and nag any day.